North West Wales

Campaign to save St John's Church building after closure

St John's Church Image copyright Chris Downer/Geograph

A campaign is under way to save one of the spiritual homes of the St John Ambulance charity in Wales.

Dwindling congregations meant St John's Church in Ysbyty Ifan, Gwynedd, closed as a place of worship last month.

Campaigners say it is an important historical location and want to preserve the building.

A Church in Wales spokesman said it was "working with the local community to try to see if there is a new future for the church building".

Located on a busy medieval pilgrim route, a hospice was first established there by the Hospitaller Knights of St John of Jerusalem in 1190.

At the time, they provided pilgrims across Europe with rest, refreshment and spiritual care.

Centuries later, the Order of St John is today a major humanitarian charity, perhaps best known in the UK for its volunteer ambulance first aiders.

Preserved

The hospice at Ysbyty Ifan was one of the knight's first in north Wales, located about half way along the pilgrim's route between Holywell, Flintshire, and Bardsey Island, off the Llyn Peninsula.

The village was first known as Dolgynwal, but with time the name Ysbyty Ifan - roughly meaning John's Hospice - was adopted.

A hospice in Slebech, Pembrokeshire, is believed to be the order's first in Wales.

The Friends of the Church of St John has been set up and are in discussions with the Church in Wales as to how the building can be preserved.

A spokesman for the Church in Wales said: "We are in the early stages and the nature of any future arrangements are not yet clear.

"But we will certainly work with the community representatives to see what can be achieved - this may involve outright sale or lease of the building.

"The precise use of the building will also become clearer as the community considers future options."

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